Mountain View, Calif.Tailored to address the power-sensitive needs of portable applications, Actel Corp. has developed the IGLOO family of FPGAs, which are capable of drawing static power as low as 5-µW.
Actel uses process technology (Vt shifts), design changes and a 1.2-V power supply to minimize power consumption. As a result, the IGLOO devices can achieve static power as low as 5-µW and dynamic power consumption up to 60% lower than low-power competitors, according to Martin Mason, director, silicon product marketing at Actel.
The IGLOO devices are aimed at any type of device that is portable and cost sensitive, including smart phones and portable media players. They are also suitable for industrial scientific and medical portable applications (ISM), military and government radios, test and point of sale (POS) equipment, and automotive systems.
IGLOO devices have FPGA logic for implementing high-bandwidth bus-to-bus interfaces, including large arrays of on-chip dual-port RAM with co-located FIFO controllers, DDR interfaces for memory expansion and clock management units (PLLs). The energy-efficient programmable architecture features three power modes that reduce the IGLOO's static power consumption to less than 4-microamps (5uW).
The three modes include Flash*Freeze, low-power active and sleep mode.
The Flash*Freeze technology used in IGLOO devices enables easy entry and exit from the ultra-low power mode, which consumes as little as 5-µW, while retaining SRAM and register data. Flash*Freeze technology simplifies power management through I/O and clock management without a need to turn off voltages, I/Os, or clocks at the system level. Entering and exiting Flash*Freeze mode takes less than 1-µs, Mason explained.
Alternatively, Actel's low-power active mode allows the IGLOO device to directly control when the system goes into low-power mode. While in the low-power active mode, the Actel IGLOO devices are able to offer low-power capabilities with the FPGA core, clocks and all I/O functional. When designing high-density devices, the IGLOO sleep mode can drop power below 25-µW when power to the FPGA core is removed.
IGLOO devices range from 30,000 to three million system gates and build on the characteristics of ProASIC3 flash FPGAs, such as live-at-power-up and secure AES-based in-system programmability and on-chip user non-volatile memory.
IGLOO family offers up to 616 user I/Os, six phase-locked loops (PLLs), 504-kbits of RAM and 350MHz performance in both commercial and industrial grades.
"Based on a 130-nm advanced flash technology, we have significant cost advantages over other low power FPGAs on 180-nm or older process technology," Mason said.
As PLD market leaders aggressively push process geometries to 90-nm and 65-nm to produce cheaper devices for high-volume applications, their devices are increasingly consuming power.
Actel joins other smaller FPGA vendors, such as QuickLogic Corp., that are vying for a beefy portion of the portable market, developing low-power, high-density programmable ASIC alternatives.
Last year, QuickLogic launched its PolarPro FPGA line that was touted at the time as the lowest power FPGA. PolarPro eliminates idle power and brings it down to 10-microamps through what it calls the VLP (very low power) mode.
Both IGLOO and PolarPro give battery-powered, handheld designers the option of choosing an FPGA, which traditionally has been too expensive and power consuming.
"Deep sub-micron technologies and large numbers of transistors lead to high leakage and power," Mason said. "In the past FPGA vendors have been only focused on price and performance. Power has been a secondary consideration."
Immediate prototyping of the Actel IGLOO family is available now using the company's flash-based ProASIC3 family. With pricing starting at less than $1.50 in volume shipments, the first parts in the Actel IGLOO family will be available in late the fourth quarter of this year.
The optimized Libero IDE for the low-power family is planned for release in September 2006. A reference design for a low-power mass storage product for portable devices will be available from PalmChip Corp. in September 2006. Additional reference designs will be available in the fourth quarter of 2006.
Actel Corp., 1-888-992-2835, www.actel.com